We visited places bordered on wilderness,
containing under its summer canopy of trees a potent energy
that sometimes spoke to us in a nineteenth century vernacular.
The log cabins, the one room church with the strange light
and the small cemetery hemmed in by forest
were familiar to us
and we never felt the need to question why this was so.
We read gravestones worn down by time and nature
and talked of John Brown and blizzards that would sweep across the Plains
like a religious revival or Manifest Destiny
and for a moment I felt safe
against the whims of weather and madness
while my fingers felt the grit on the stones
and I inhaled the smell of heat and pine trees.
I’ve yet to return there
for fear of seeing you in the trees, the water, the dirt,
and once again taste in my mouth
the stale breath
of your kisses that reminded me of death,
and feel again my cowardice in the face of your anger
that made me wonder why it is some of us never go easy
but seem to fight against all that we can’t fix-
and won’t allow a moment’s kindness to penetrate.
Throughout the strange, still winter that followed,
I wondered when I could release myself from this affliction of sorrow and fear
and take back the forests that I love so much,
to once again
wander through them like a solitary witch
gathering light and casting magical spells on myself.